Shop Profile: Personal Touches Give Action Collision its Staying Power

Personal Touches Give Action Collision Staying Power

Action Collision in Troy, Mich., has a simple formula for success: Delight your clientele with high-quality work, and deliver personal touches that shatter expectations – and turn customers into friends.


When you’re a family-owned, independent shop trying to survive in a world of MSOs and consolidators, what’s the best way to level the playing field? For Action Collision in Troy, Mich., here’s the solution: Delight your clientele with high-quality work, and deliver personal touches that shatter expectations – and turn customers into friends.

Recognizing that collisions are a traumatic, once-in-a-lifetime event for most drivers, Action Collision shepherds customers through the process with “over-the-top” communication and the kind of professional touches that you might expect from a luxury retailer – not a body shop.

For example, Action Collision has three detailers on staff (two do it full-time, while one has additional responsibilities), who meticulously clean and polish every finished vehicle.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a bumper job or a $20,000 front-end hit,” says owner Matt McNabb. “Every car gets thoroughly cleaned, inside and out. Most people tell us, ‘My car has never looked so good.’”

Within 48 hours of every job, Action Collision follows up with a phone call to each customer, to ensure that they’re 100 percent satisfied with the work. Thirty days after receiving their vehicle, customers can come back for a free wash and wax – and most do.

“When you look at all the consolidation taking place, the big guys are gaining footprint,” McNabb says. “They have a lot of control in this industry. But what they don’t have is the personal communication that we have as a family business.”

‘They’re Not Customers – They’re Friends’

McNabb and his father, George, started the business in 1987. His sister, Marie Kozey, is the office manager, and her son, Mike Kozey, is the general manager. Even as Action Collision approaches its 30th anniversary (on Feb. 18), Matt McNabb remembers the shop’s humble start like it was yesterday.

“We started working in the garage and then moved into a 2,000-square-foot building,” McNabb recalls. “We had one spraybooth, a power post and some estimating books – that was state-of-the-art in 1987.”

Today, Action Collision has 20 employees and operates out of two adjacent facilities that total 36,000 square feet, repairing more than 120 vehicles a month.



“I was bumping and painting cars when I was 14 years old,” McNabb says. “Before I even had a license, I was painting the vice principal’s car. It was never about money for us – it was just a passion for working on cars.”

While that passion has been there from the start, the customer service component has evolved over the years, as they’ve realized that the little things are big things when it comes to customer satisfaction. That’s why Action Collision conducts a rigorous post-repair inspection not only to ensure that the vehicle has been repaired properly, but also to make sure that dashboard lights and other items are back to their pre-accident settings.

“Those are things that we’ve learned are an inconvenience to people, especially if they have to bring their vehicle back,” McNabb says. “We’ve learned to make sure that when they get their car back, nothing is out of place.”

They’ve also learned that most customers want to know how long it’s going to take to repair their vehicle, and where their vehicle is in the process. Action Collision has a dedicated staffer who provides those updates to customers as often as they’d like, and via the medium of their choice – phone call, text or email.



“They’re comfortable when they come here,” Marie Kozey says. “That’s the biggest relief you can have, because no one wants to go to the dentist or come here. If you can get somebody in the door and make them feel at ease, and they know you’re going to take care of everything and do a good job, then they come back and refer their friends and family. That’s the biggest compliment a shop can get.”

She adds: “We’ve made a lot of friends here. They’re not customers – they’re friends.”

It’s not hard to see why. Kozey and McNabb recall staying until 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve to complete a job so a customer wouldn’t have to cancel a trip planned for Christmas morning. They also have learned the value of making very minor repairs – from a burned-out headlight bulb to a scratch that needs buffed out – for no charge.

“When we can do something for free, people are amazed, and they never forget it,” Kozey says. “That’s another marketing tool that costs us a little but, but it in the long run, it pays off.”

A Place to Say ‘Hi’

Action Collision has been at the same address for nearly 30 years. But up until a few years ago, the business was crammed into a 7,000-square-foot facility, using an additional building around the corner for office space and “overflow,” according to McNabb.

“We ran out of room at our 7,000-square-foot building probably 10 years ago,” McNabb explains. “We were running double shifts. We had one booth and three painters, and they had to alternate. One guy would leave at 1 in the morning, and the other painter would start at 5 (a.m.). So our biggest bottleneck was the constant shuffling of cars.”



When a 29,000-square-foot building became available next door in 2014, Action Collision snatched it up and renovated it. That gave them ample space for their repair operations and enabled them to consolidate the office staff into a 4,000-square-foot office/reception area that boasts a fireplace, cappuccino maker, granite countertops, polished concrete floors and leather furniture. And yes, the reception area has free Wi-Fi.

The new facility has made an impression on new and returning customers.

“People brought us cookies and donuts when we moved into the new place,” Kozey says. “They’re happy for us. They come in just to sit at the coffee bar. They don’t feel like they’re just walking into a business where they have to bring their car. They feel like this is a place where they can stop in and say ‘hi.’”

At a Glance

Location: Troy, Mich.

When established: 1987

Square footage: 36,000 (32,000 is production)

Owner: Matt McNabb

Repair volume/number of cars per month: 120+

Average repair cost: $2,900

DRPs: Allstate, Encompass, Esurance, Frankenmuth, Farm Bureau, Ameriprise, AAA; also a member of Open Shop, which includes Farmers, Liberty Mutual, Travelers, Amica

Number of Employees: (20) – 6 body techs, 2 detailers, 3 painters, 4 office staff, 3 estimators, 1 shop foreman, 1 parts person

Behind the Bays

Scheduling system: In-house

Estimating system: CCC1

Prep Station: GFC

Spray Booth: GFC

Lifts: 2 Challengers

Computerized measuring system: 3 Chief Velocity systems

Straightening system: 7 Chief

Welders: Pro Spot

Paint: Standox

You May Also Like

OEM Certification: The Wave of the Future?

More OEMs are pushing auto body shop certification in the interest of quality repairs and keeping customers happy.

OEM certification programs have grown in numbers in recent years due to automakers taking more of a vested interest in the collision repairs of their vehicles. The OEMs know that 60% of people who return their car to an auto body shop due to an issue related to a collision repair will sell or trade that car in a year. And of those, 63% will switch to a different make of vehicle. Therefore, brand loyalty is at stake.

How Would You Like Your Eggs?

Just like a server at a cafe asks, “How would you like me to prepare your eggs?” insurers often place repairers in the position of asking their customers, “How would you like your vehicle repaired?”

Tech Shortage, the 80/20 Rule and Mentoring

Approximately 74% of businesses need at least one technician and are willing to fill it with an entry-level tech prospect. The problem: What happens when the entry-level tech arrives?

Grossman Chevrolet Nissan: Girls Run the Show

In both the Grossman Chevrolet Nissan dealership and its on-site collision center, women run the show.

Auto Body Consolidators: Full Steam Ahead

At mid-year, most consolidators — with the exception of a few — are full steam ahead with acquisitions.

Other Posts

Meet the Auto Body Instructor: Brian Cobb

Brian Cobb, collision repair instructor and department chair at Coastal Carolina Community College, works extremely hard to make inroads with the local industry and is starting to see that there are people who want to work in collision repair.

What are Collision Repairers’ Obligations to Insurers?

Many collision repairers often believe they must comply with insurers’ demands, but when asked why they believe this, few of them can give good answers.

Creating a Diverse Workforce at Your Auto Body Shop

As the owner of two CARSTAR locations dealing with the challenge of finding employees, I started looking at our community and where I could attract new talent and train them to become great technicians.

Collision Repair Technicians: Solving Problems

Juan Carlos Gasga Perez’s T-shirt that says “Auto Body Technician — I Solve Problems You Don’t Know You Have In Ways You Can’t Understand” might just go viral.